Eccentricities don't just belong to individuals, however. Glance into your organization's practices and I'll bet you can spool a healthy list. Consider what you're most worried about when you hire someone. Are you mostly afraid you'll get someone without the right competencies to do the job? Does anything else matter? More to the point, would you hire Jack the Ripper to perform your triple bypass just because he has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the surgery? Or do Jack's values matter to you? If you ask me, it's a bit crazy to worry about Jack's competencies and ignore his values.
It may be a bit dramatic, but think about it each time you start the hiring process and consider how you'll check the values of the candidate. It's one thing to make sure candidates can do the mechanics of the job, but do they fit into the organization? And how will you know?
How important is customer service to your business? If your response is, "It's critical," then what you do to make sure all your new employees are committed to service matters. Whether the employee is a customer service rep or running a stamping machine, that employee can have some effect on the customer's experience. The more the employee understands that and can show he's committed to it, the easier it is to build a strong service culture throughout the organization.
How about safety? Hiring a klutz to work around dangerous machinery when you're trying to hit a zero reportable accidents goal is a no-brainer bad idea. But how will the selection process ensure you get a safety-conscious new hire? Paper-pencil tests, targeted questioning, and other methods for selecting people with the right values can go a long way toward hiring the people that will get you that national safety award you've been coveting.
In our turnaround work, we occasionally see core employees or leaders opt out of the organization because the values in the changed organization won't support their manipulative or autocratic practices. In a couple of instances, organizations ignored warning signs and ended up replacing their competent, but manipulative, ex-employee with an equally competent, but manipulative, new-hire. Until they bite the bullet and revamp their systems to select for values, they'll be doomed to recycle their problems instead of fixing them.
We might all be a little bit eccentric. Genetics have been kind to me, so like my friend I'm more than happy to put off my dentist visits from time to time. I think I can live with that. It's true for organizations, as well. We'll probably always have something or other that just seems goofy to everyone else. Hiring for competencies without considering values can be one of them. A slip up here and there may not be the end of the road. If we know we're consistently ignoring the values when we select employees, however, we should consider how often we're figuratively hiring Jack the Ripper to perform heart surgery and so risk making crazy the norm.
Trying it on for fit
Audit your selection process to determine its effectiveness helping you select employees with the values your organization needs to accomplish mission critical goals. Consider both internal effectiveness requirements as well as market demands. It's difficult to become a business with outstanding customer service without employees who value internal service to each other for the benefit of the customer, for example. Values relating to creativity, participation, and innovation may be important for the leader of a group requiring a product or process breakthrough. Values for learning, information sharing, flexibility and participation may be essential for all employees in a highly collaborative and inclusive organization requiring a unit wide focus. Also, consider the values you need for specific initiatives such as mergers, redesigns, new product launches, and changes in market focus making sure important values are present in key roles and across the organization.